Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
The Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame has inducted some big name football players in recent years including Michael Vick, Darryl Tapp, Eddie Royal, and Brandon Flowers. We've already discussed how Bud Foster should headline the 2020 class, but there are plenty of former Hokie football players who are also worthy of going in with Foster.
Here's a look at the sixth to fourth top football player candidates for this year's class (note, former players must be at least 10 years out of school based on the end of the academic year which means Tyrod Taylor is not eligible till 2021).
6. Ernest Wilford
Ernest Wilford may be the lone offensive player on this list, but there's no doubt that he is due to become a Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Famer in the very near future.
The former two-time All-Big East player (2nd Team-2002, 1st Team-2003) is one of only seven Hokie wide receivers with at least 110 catches and 2,000 receiving yards. Four of the other 7 are not yet eligible for the VT Sports Hall of Fame while Antonio Freeman and Ricky Scales were inducted a long time ago.
Wilford was a great receiver for Tech finishing his career with 126 receptions (which set a new school record at the time) for 2,052 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. Wilford was particularly dynamic during his final two seasons in Blacksburg exceeding 50 receptions and 880 receiving yads in each seasons with his 55 receptions in 2003 setting a school record that wouldn't be broken till Jarett Boykin's 61 in 2011.
During his four seasons at Blacksburg, Tech went 37-14 with a pair of 10+ win seasons and three top 20 ranking finishes. Wilford was a big reason for helping the Hokies continue to compete at a very high level and show that Tech would be a force going forward after Michael Vick.
Wilford is the lone offensive player on our top 6 list and should be one of the next offensive players to receive his spot in the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame.
5. Jimmy Williams
Jimmy Williams was one of the stars for Virginia Tech at the beginning of the ACC era for the Hokies that helped launch their elite run of dominance with eight-straight 10+ win seasons.
Williams was a three-year starter for the Hokies who also played a lot during his freshman season in 2002. Overall, Williams finished his career with 9 interceptions (including 2 returned for touchdowns) and 25 pass breakups over his four seasons, proving to be a dominant cornerback.
Williams also received plenty of national recognition earning Unanimous All-American honors for his senior season in 2005, one year after he had 5 interceptions and 14 pass breakups, a season that could have also earned him All-American honors. That made it no surprise when Williams was drafted in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft. His selection has him still as the fifth highest selected defensive back in program history.
A cornerback like Williams who was a two-time All-ACC First Teamer and one-time Unanimous All-American is the type of player who should absolutely be in the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame. Williams' time will come soon and likely within the next few years.
4. Xavier Adibi
Three-year starter Xavier Adibi is definitely considered one of the best linebackers in Virginia Tech football history and him (along with Vince Hall) both have futures in the VT Sports Hall of Fame. While Hall just missed this list, Adibi makes the list in part because of the fact that he was an AFCA All-American in 2007, something that Hall did not achieve.
Adibi was a playmaking linebacker throughout his career with 25 tackles for loss including 9 sacks, 8 interceptions, 12 pass breakups, 5 forced fumbles, and 3 touchdowns during his career. That included an impressive 2007 season during which he had 115 tackles including 12 for loss and 3 sacks plus 2 interceptions (1 of which was returned for a touchdown), 5 pass breakups, and 1 forced fumble.
His impressive 2007 season earned him the aforementioned All-American honors and a spot on the All-ACC First Team, one season after earning a spot on the 2006 All-ACC Second Team. Adibi was selected in the fourth round in the NFL Draft and is still among the 10 earliest selected Hokie linebackers in program history.
What may be the coolest way for Adibi to go into the VT Sports Hall of Fame is to go in with fellow linebacker partner Vince Hall sometime down the road. However, if both don't go in together which is more likely, then Adibi seems like the stronger candidate to be inducted sooner.